Play and Imagination in Children with Autism


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This now classic text remains a cornerstone of continued efforts to develop inclusive peer play programs for children on the autism spectrum. This second edition has been thoroughly revised to reflect the significant new developments that have transpired in the field of autism. Notable additions to the text include an updated description of the Integrated Play Groups (IPG) model and related research; an examination of the nature of autism and play from past to present, with major updates on incidence, diagnosis, and characteristics; and, a comprehensive review of play interventions.

Based on award-winning research, this volume offers new hope for children with autism by shedding light on theory and practice. It goes beyond the usual autism literature by including what is known about play within typical populations. Part One, Perspectives on Autism and Play, examines the complex problems children with autism experience in reciprocal social interaction, communication and imagination. Part Two, Passage to Play Culture, presents.


  • The Nature of Autism
  • The Nature of Play
  • Play in Childhood Development
  • Play in Practice
  • Passage to Play Culture Ethnographic Case Portraits
  • Beginning to Explore
  • Entering Play
  • Guided Participation
  • Embracing Play
  • An Unending Journey
  • Implications for Theory and Practice
  • References
  • Index
  • About the Author
  • Copyright

Author Bio

Pamela Wolfberg, PhD, is associate professor of special education and director of the autism spectrum graduate program at San Francisco State University. She received her doctorate from the University of California, Berkeley, with SFSU. She has more than 20 years of experience as an educator, researcher, and practitioner devoted to diverse learners on the autism spectrum. She currently serves as associate editor for Autism: International Journal of Research and Practice and as director of Project Mosiac: Preparing Highly Qualified Educators to Meet the Unique Needs of Students with Autism in Diverse Settings. Pamela is the recipient of several distinguished awards for her scholarship, research and service to the community.


“With solid, thorough research, this book is a serious read, ideal for parents and educators searching for an inclusive, positive approach to helping children with autism expand their play repertoire and interact with peers.” – Building Blocks

“Dr. Wolfberg once again guides us in a highly engaging manner in supporting social and play development for children with ASD.” – Barry M. Prizant, Brown University

“Dr. Wolfberg continues to break new ground with the second edition of her book. This is a wonderful resource” – Connie Kasari, UCLA Graduate School of Education & Information Studies

“Play and Imagination in Children with Autism has been the cornerstone of my professional and personal life for nearly a decade. This updated edition retains the original accessible style, explaining so clearly the pivotal role that peer play holds in the lives of individuals on the autism spectrum, while providing readers with cutting-edge developments in theory, research, and practice in the field.” – Heather McCracken, Founder/Executive Director, Friend 2 Friend Social Learning Society.